Roofing Employers Face Manslaughter Charges Following Fatal Fall

Dudley Mansions: Manslaughter Charge

TWO ROOFING EMPLOYERS will be tried for manslaughter next March after an employee died following a fall from the roof of a hotel in Hove.

On 3 June, 2021, the judge Shani Barnes at Brighton Crown Court, set the date of 14 March 2022 for the manslaughter trial. He granted bail for John Spiller, 51, and Steve Wenham, 47.

They were charged after Graham Tester, 60, died on Friday 27 July 2018 while working on converting a hotel to flats at Dudley Mansions, in Lansdowne Place, Hove.

The two businesses led by the defendants have also been charged. John Spiller’s firm, Southern Asphalt, of Sackville Road, Hove, and Steve Wenham’s company, Total Contractors, of Western Road, Hove.

The businesses are accused of breaking health and safety law by failing to ensure that employees “were not exposed to the risk of injury or death by falling from height”.

Both business owners entered a not guilty plea, denying manslaughter by gross negligence.

Graham Tester died after he fell while working on the roof of the former Lansdowne Place Hotel (previously the Dudley Hotel). The hotel closed in 2013 and in 2017 a project to turn it into flats began.

Following Graham Tester’s death in July 2018, the two company directors undertaking the work were charged. They are accused of gross negligence by failing in their duty of care in planning, preparing and operating roofing repair works at the site.

The charge states they did not “take reasonable care to plan, prepare and operate roofing repair works,” including that they:

  • failed to ensure that an adequate risk assessment with no method statement was prepared for the roofing repairs
  • failed to provide or ensure the provision of scaffolding allowing safe access to the roof and proper edge protection
  • failed to provide or ensure the provision of lifting equipment for the transportation of roofing materials to the roof
  • failed to provide or ensure the provision of measures to prevent or mitigate a fall from height

John Spiller instructed and Steve Wenham caused or permitted Graham Tester to start the roofing works, in spite of knowing that adequate safety measures were not in place, according to the charge.

>> Read about working safely at height

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